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November 14, 2013

Fishing advocates eye health-care forum

The trials and tribulations of the federal Affordable Care Act have left potential health insurance consumers swimming in conflicting information, and the Gloucester-based Fishing Partnership is trying to help folks cut through the confusion.

The fishing industry advocacy group, in partnership with the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, is organizing a health-care forum next Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library that could help fishing families and other residents navigate their way through the healthcare maze.

“We want people to understand they should forget about the mess (in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act),” said Angela Sanfilippo, executive director of the Massachusetts Fishing Partnership. “The law is here to stay, and they need to reapply for whatever insurance they have.”

The forum, Sanfilippo said, will include certified application counselors trained to answer questions on coverage, application procedures and the deadlines established under the new federal health-care guidelines.

She said the deadlines are a key element, so that people know the dates by which they need to reapply for existing insurance or apply for new coverage so their coverage is in effect at the dawn of 2014.

For instance, she said she received word Thursday that Bay State residents currently enrolled in Commonwealth Care coverage will have their coverage automatically extended to March 31, 2014, to make sure they have enough time to re-enroll for coverage.

The Massachusetts Fishing Partnership also is going beyond the Thursday forum at the library to help people understand the importance of hitting those application deadlines. Sanfilippo said the organization plans to hire workers to go door-to-door in some of the city’s neighborhoods to remind residents to file on time.

Sanfilippo said the overall goal of the informational campaign is to help families get the most health-care coverage at the lowest prices available under the new law.

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